Open Your Heart

burning heart on hands.It is never an open heart that hurts. It is always a closed one.

It is when we meet someone whose heart is closed us to us and we in turn close ours, that it hurts.

It is when we close our hearts to the world because love is taken away from us, that suffering begins.

Keeping our heart open is never painful. Closing it always is.

With practice we can learn to keep our heart open even when we experience loss or meet someone whose heart is closed to us.

It is when we choose love instead of fear that our situation will transform, our suffering will end and miracles will occur naturally as expressions of love.

A miracle is merely the translation of denial into truth. 

Because only love is real.

(This post is largely inspired by the works of Marianne Williamson. Direct quotes from A Course in Miracles in italics).

Insidious Ego In My Head

The world as we know it is mostly driven by egos. On all levels. From conflicts between nations and religious warfare via corporate competition and political campaigns down to workplace politics, family dynamics and intimate relations. Although to various degrees, all of us have this innate urge to be heard, respected and appraised by others. And when this doesn’t happen (and I dare say this seems to happen more often than not) we react in a multitude of ways ranging from mildly indignant to downright cruel. Because it is only normal to react when our egos are hurt, right? Maybe. But it is not the only way, and certainly not the best way. Thankfully.

As I see it, the non-physical part of what I like to call me, is comprised of three components: my soul, my mind and my ego.

Zen stonesFirst and foremost is my soul which is the subtle essence of who I really am. The soul is indestructible, eternal and divine and the only part of my whole being which is capable of love as well as the source of my intuition.

Secondly, is my chattering and at times ungovernable mind. A cognitive tool I have been given to navigate this life experience, and until not long ago my mind was more or less in charge of the whole shebang I call life. I am slowly but surely learning to put my mind in the place where it belongs, namely as my faithful and obedient servant.

Then there is this third part. Easily insulted and humiliated, never completely satisfied and on an eternal mission to detect and mercilessly judge flaws in myself and others. It is everything my soul is not. It is my ego.

My earliest memory of having consciously thought of the phenomenon of the ego was several years back. Someone I dated repeatedly exclaimed “Well, I do have an ego!!” in order to justify his less amicable actions. Having never thought of this before I sort of initially assumed that honoring one’s ego was a normal and just thing to do. -I deserve to put me first! Needless to say, our little union quickly became history.

In Alcoholics Anonymous on the other hand, you learn that an important aspect the 12-step program of recovery is ego deflation. The ego is the origin of Stinkin’ thinkin’ and something that should never be honored. This resonated more with me than the previous notion.

With time I sort of developed an attitude of trying to recognize when my reactions were ego based and if they were, then try not to honor those influences. This is of course something that is easier said than done when gallons of adrenalin are flushing pure, undiluted insanity through your system and a clear, loving thought is nowhere to be seen. I had however not yet discovered the true nature of the ego: Pure malice.

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The ego is “suspicious at best and vicious at worst.” And we should not underestimate its vengeance.Marianne Williamson

It was however not until I heard Marianne Williamson’s words on the ego in a recording from a workshop she held on A Course in Miracles that the penny really dropped. Never again could I be fooled into consciously believing that the ego should be honored some times and ignored other times. It will never have my best interest at heart. Not in a million years.

The Ego is an impostor that will make me self-sabotage everything good coming my way. It will set me up for failure and then mock me afterwards for having been so stupid to take the bait:

– Go on!! You know you want to! You deserve it!! You will enjoy it. Everyone else is doing it!! Come on now!

Then disaster strikes as if often does when I do something I shouldn’t have. And guess who stands shamelessly at the other end ready to assess my performance?

– How could you have been so stupid?? You should have known it would end like this!! It did the last time! You messed up again!! You’re hopeless!

This is only one of the numerous methods the ego has for making life miserable. Another effective trick is to convince me that I want, deserve and am worthy of something like a certain job or a romantic relationship, only to start finding flaws with my new job or special someone once it arrives. Never satisfied and always rejecting the now as anything but ideal and perfect. -There has to be something better out there!?! This can’t be it?!? Not to forget the oh-so-effective: This is too good to be true (-must find flaws)!

Marianne Williamson explained how she did not use to believe the Devil was real. She would convince herself: -The Devil only exists in my head, only to realize that in her head was the worst possible place in the universe it could be. Alas, meet your ego: The true Devil in your head!

Man on top of mountainSo how do we get rid of this dark force within us? We can’t eradicate the ego any more than we can eradicate darkness. But just like darkness cannot exist when light is shone on it, the power of the ego vanishes in the face of love. We need to recognize it for what it is, namely a force that is not acting in our best interest, and then choose not to act on the impulses it sends us. Choosing one’s reactions and emotions sounds like sorcery to many, but this is completely doable with practice. Meditation is an excellent way to build the mental stamina needed to face your ego without fear or compromise. Your ego can only ever hurt you or boss you around if you let it. 

Try to become aware of this the next time you feel the adrenalin pumping through your veins and you’re about to do something that may give you instant satisfaction but are likely to regret later. Like sending that angry email or buying that gorgeous thing you really cannot afford. Try to stop and ask yourself: Is this my ego trying to take over the show? And then try to choose a reaction that is in your best interest long-term. This is what true freedom is. Freedom from the ego’s cunning ways to make us screw things up.

In The Matrix the ubiquitous Agent Smith compares us humans to a virus on this planet. In our current state he might be on to something but I don’t think the human race is altogether incapable of harmony and sustainable abundance. That is if we collectively can learn to embrace our loving souls instead of our vicious egos. As a species we have the ability to create magnificent wonders as well as unfathomable destruction. Both forces are intrinsically embedded within every single one of us, in the form of the soul and the ego. Which voice we choose to make our master however, is entirely up to us.

Soulfully Yours,

Kristian

Unconditionally Yours

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Unconditional love. A beautiful concept, but what does it really mean?

It is really very simple: It means to love someone or something completely and utterly, regardless of how the beloved party acts, behaves, responds or otherwise treats you back.

This can be fairly easy to do towards recipients that are easy to love like a cat, a cupcake or a small child. The real test for most lies in unconditionally loving adult human beings, ourselves included, being that no one among us ever will be perfect in every way thinkable to us.

The ultimate challenge is to love one’s romantic partner unconditionally, especially in a society where separating is always a viable option. Many would claim to love their partner unconditionally but how many really, really mean it? How many will keep loving their partner after having been betrayed in the worst thinkable way? If you are not willing to forgive any action from your partner, then (I’m sorry to break it to you) your love for your partner is based on one or countless conditions, and is therefore not unconditional.

“Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is”Marianne Williamson.

Marianne Williamson sums it up beautifully here, I think. Every single person we meet is going to have sides that we are not too crazy about (or darkness, if you will) if we knew about them. Loving someone regardless of their dark sides is what I call unconditional love.

But doesn’t this mean that we would settle for less? Doesn’t this condone unacceptable behaviour? Wouldn’t forgiving betrayal set a poor standard for similar escapades in the future?

It could and it probably would if we were forgiving from a place of fear. Fear of not deserving a faithful partner, fear of being alone and fear of being abandoned. I am however not talking about forgiving someone for fear of these things. Forgiveness must come from a place of love, and more specifically love for yourself. You don’t forgive because someone else deserves it, you forgive because you deserve to be free of whatever was done to you.

LavenderFieldPinkSkyIt may sound paradoxical but loving unconditionally is the ultimate empowerment in the romantic department. Why? Because the other person has no power over your feelings for them. That power lies in you. You are the one who decides who and when to love. And when not to love. No one but you can and should be responsible for your happiness. When we humans realize that the complete power to decide our reactions rests within each and every one of us, that is when we find true freedom to be who we really are.

As a species we are diligently trained to react in very specific ways to a lot of specific things. And deviations from society’s norms are sadly not regarded as a sign of strength. If I hit you, then you should hit me back. Or at least yell, get pretty angry or possibly send someone in your place to reciprocate. If I say something nice to you, you are supposed to swell with joy or else you are arrogant. Who is really in charge in these situations? Well, it is certainly not you. I say, take your power back! Only when you decide if and how you want to react to other people and stop depending on default programming, only then will you be free of other people’s power over you.

To my future partner I want to say the following: My happiness does not depend on you, so you’re off the hook. I can never be happy because of you, but I will love to be happy together with you. Although I may not love what you are doing every moment of our time together, I will always try to see you as who you really are – not as you are in this moment. Quite frankly, I love you so much I don’t care what you think.

Terms and conditions do not apply.

Unconditionally Yours,

Kristian